Arrest made in Altamonte Springs road-rage shooting

Suspect charged with attempted murder

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. – A man has been arrested on an attempted-murder charge in connection with a road-rage shooting in Altamonte Springs on March 23, police said.

The two drivers were on State Road 436 near Westmonte Drive shortly before 1 p.m. when they almost crashed while one driver was changing lanes, according to authorities.

Police said Sherif Basta, 49, and Rukshan Goonewardena, 28, exchanged words then Goonewardena shot Basta in the arm while they were both stopped at a red light.

Goonewardena sped off in his black Chevrolet, according to a news release. Basta was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Police used surveillance video of the incident to help them identify Goonewardena's vehicle.

"If it weren't for that surveillance video, we probably would have just had that basic description that we got from the witnesses, which was a black four-door vehicle,"  Altamonte Springs spokeswoman Evelyn Estevez said.

When police executed a search warrant for the Chevrolet, deputies found a .40 caliber shell casing they believe was used in the shooting.

Goonewardena was arrested Wednesday. He's being held without bond at the Seminole County Jail.

During his first court appearance Thursday, he covered his face with court papers. But that's not the only thing he tried hiding -- police said when they found his car, he had it covered with a tarp.

"Us releasing that surveillance video probably is what sent him into high alert in concealing his vehicle," Estevez said.

Court papers show investigators found that about a dozen people owned similar cars within 10 miles of the shooting. When they looked at the list of car owners, investigators found only Goonewardena had a criminal past. Police said he was charged with domestic violence, and even had another road-rage incident similar to this one.

"We are relieved that we were able to identify him and get him off the streets ... we were concerned for the community," Estevez said.

She said his behavior indicates that he's ashamed of himself.

"He's probably embarrassed at this point," Estevez said. "He probably thought he'd be able to conceal himself and conceal his vehicle from the incident."

His attorney, Kendell Ali, had no comment.